Dec 5, 2013, 8:58 AM EDT
If Steven Stamkos had to pick one aspect of his recovery from a broken right tibia that’s the toughest, it’s watching the Tampa Bay Lightning fall, knowing he can’t help them.
When he suffered the injury, the Lightning were leading the Atlantic Division, but now they rank fourth and have just a five-point cushion in the battle for a playoff spot.
Although the Lightning have enjoyed the occasional offensive outburst without their top sniper, they haven’t scored a goal in back-to-back games and have been shut out of three of their last five contests.
Of course, Stamkos isn’t the only Lightning player sidelined, but there aren’t many forwards as vital to a team’s success as he is. They aren’t like the Pittsburgh Penguins or Chicago Blackhawks, which still look deadly even without a key player.
The Lightning haven’t proven that they’re that kind of team and their recent play only reinforces that. For Tampa Bay, getting back into the playoffs would be a big step forward, but the team’s offense will have to come from different sources for quite a while.
Stamkos is still nowhere near returning and he doesn’t have a timetable, although there have been suggestions that he’s eyeing a Feb. 6 return.
“It’s all about to how fast the bone heals, that part is a bit tricky, but I have to have a goal and I work towards my goal,” he said, according to the Lightning’s website.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay its own set of tasks.
- Cory Sarich hospitalized following cycling accident, expects ‘full recovery’ 2
- Stamkos shrugs off talk of LeBron-like homecoming to Toronto in 2016 23
- Avs and O’Reilly agree on two-year deal, but questions remain 30
- Rangers and Kreider avoid arbitration, agree on two-year deal 34
- Zuccarello takes Rangers’ one year, $3.5M deal 42
- Advancement? Leafs sign Booth for one year, $1.1M 25
- Leafs hire 28-year-old stats advocate as assistant GM 30
- NBC Sports to air over 100 NHL regular-season games in 2014-15 68
- Stars, Roussel agree on four-year, $8 million deal 3
- Vanek connected to federal gambling investigation 61
- Babcock fires back over allegations that free agents avoid him (77)
- Babcock: Cleary a ‘calculated risk’ after playing last year ‘on one leg’ (70)
- NBC Sports to air over 100 NHL regular-season games in 2014-15 (68)
- Vanek connected to federal gambling investigation (61)
- Report: Zuccarello wants $4.5M per on new deal, Brassard eyeing $5.5M (58)